After National Outcry, Comcast Doubles Speed of Internet Essentials

AFTER NATIONAL OUTCRY, COMCAST DOUBLES SPEED OF INTERNET ESSENTIALS

Community and Media Justice Advocates Celebrate after over 56,000 Americans Push Comcast to Upgrade Low Income Service; Decrease Prices and Push to Improve Internet Access for Everyone Even More

For more information, contact:

Hannah Sassaman

hannah@mediamobilizingproject.org

Philadelphia – Today, on a blog post on its corporate website, the Comcast Corporation announced that it plans to double the download speeds of its Internet Essentials service — designed to help low-income families access the internet — from 5 megabits per second (mbps) to 10 mbps.  Comcast will also provide free wireless routers to subscribers and will pilot availability for seniors, beginning in Florida.

Philadelphia-based and national community organizations have been pressuring Comcast to improve its service to low-income communities, after Comcast announced it would increase the speeds – for free – for its highest-paying customers. Over 56,000 members of these organizations told Comcast to increase speeds and decrease prices for everyone, leading to today’s decision to increase speeds and offer other new benefits for consumers.

Earlier this year many of these same activists were instrumental in convincing federal agencies to reject Comcast’s bid to takeover Time Warner Cable. And in Philadelphia, an upcoming cable franchise renewal provides yet another opportunity to include people in the policy making process, chisel away at the digital divide and fight for the media and technology, and the corporate accountability, our communities need.

The statements below are from organizations who partnered to push Comcast to expand and improve Internet Essentials:

Hannah Sassaman, Policy Director, Media Mobilizing Project

“For years, thousands of community members have pushed Comcast to expand and improve Internet Essentials for the millions of Americans on the wrong side of the digital divide. Improving a charity program like Internet Essentials is important, and we congratulate Comcast for listening to so many of its customers and stakeholders who see access to the internet as a human right.

But charity isn’t the same as change.  If Comcast wants to break the digital divide for everybody, they need to remove all other barriers to entry for all low income consumers, and commit to increasing speeds and decreasing costs for the millions on the wrong side of the digital divide.  And regulators in Washington, and elected officials in municipalities nationwide, must demand just service from companies like Comcast, which profit hugely from our communities. That’s why we’re proud to lead the CAP Comcast campaign, and to work with thousands of Philadelphians focused on ensuring just communications service as a part of Comcast’s next franchise deal with its hometown of Philadelphia.”

Mary Alice Crim, Field Director, Free Press

“Comcast has finally responded to the thousands of people who demanded faster speeds and lower prices for Internet Essentials subscribers. This is a positive development for the many families who have had to jump through hoops to qualify for this program to begin with. But there are millions more who just miss out on qualifying for Internet Essentials who also need affordable broadband options. Comcast profits immensely from its monopoly hold on cable broadband services. If the market were more competitive, $10 for 10 megabits would be the norm, not an exception. And if Comcast were serious about closing the digital divide, it would make broadband open, accessible and affordable for everyone.”

Kaytee Ray-Riek, Campaign Director, SumOfUs.org

“Comcast realized it couldn’t pull the wool over our eyes and double internet speeds for everyone except it’s poorest customers. After 40,000 SumOfUs members spoke out to demand the company improve its program for low-income people, Comcast responded by doubling internet speeds for those customers as well. We applaud this move, and will continue to call on Comcast to use its position as one of the most profitable internet providers to address the digital divide.”

Steven Renderos, Senior Campaign Manager, Center for Media Justice

“This announcement by Comcast is further proof that when our communities organize, anything is possible. This was not a decision Comcast made alone, they upgraded the speed of its Internet Essentials customers only after being pressured to do so.  That is the power of our voices, when thousands speak up for our communication rights.  Whether it’s Comcast, Verizon or the Federal Communications Commission, our voices can transform our media system to make it more affordable and accessible to all.”

Keesha Moore, ACTION United, Philadelphia, PA

“ACTION United has brought low income families to Comcast’s doorstep since 2011, pushing them to listen to our communities when it comes to providing affordable service to everyday Philadelphians.  Improving speeds and thinking about serving seniors is a good step.  But 10mbps is still well below the FCC’s bottom basement definition for broadband.  And families still have to turn off their internet services for months to qualify for this discount.

Comcast can do far more as a Fortune 50 company headquartered in Philly.  As a public school parent living in Philadelphia, I’m focused on telling my story to City Council and the Mayor as they consider their next 15-year deal with Comcast to sell cable services here.  Comcast needs to expand affordable internet, protect workers and consumers, and pay its fair share here in Philly, and in every community nationwide.”

Kati Sipp, Director of PA Working Families

“It is great to see the public pressure on Comcast to improve Internet Essentials has begun to pay off. It’s a good start, but Comcast must continue to do more to ensure that low income consumers are not stuck on the wrong side of the digital divide by reducing costs and improving service. Comcast enjoys enormous corporate benefits in Philadelphia that enhance their profitability, and we must hold them accountable for improving our community and providing affordable, high-quality service to all who live in our city. And when the city renegotiates with Comcast on their franchise agreement, we must make sure Comcast pays its fair share.”